Forum Ideas Ignore Coming Education Funding Apocalypse

The idea getting discussed among local economists to allow school districts to use local millage money without restrictions to help fund better teacher salaries and raises in primarily urban areas of the state ignores the hard reality that Oklahoma leads the nation in cuts to education funding since 2008.

It also goes against this basic principle outlined in Section 13, Article 1 of the Oklahoma Constitution, “The Legislature shall establish and maintain a system of free public schools wherein all the children of the State may be educated.” Note the words “free” and “all” in that sentence. I believe in that sentence with every fiber of my body, and I hope you do, too.

The Oklahoma City Chamber, according to media reports, recently held a economic forum about educational funding in light of the election failure of State Question 779, which would have raised the state sales tax by one cent and given “all” Oklahoma children who attend “free” public schools the benefit of getting taught by teachers who would have received $5,000 annual raises.

As we all know, Oklahoma is mired near the bottom in the nation in teacher pay and per pupil spending, and educators are fleeing the state for better pay and better overall treatment to geographical spaces that actually value education. Since 2008, Oklahoma has cut per pupil spending by more than a whopping 26 percent. Meanwhile, the Republican-dominated Oklahoma Legislature decided in its really wise, deliberative ways to cut state funding for higher education by nearly 16 percent this fiscal year.

All these cuts can be related to recent income tax cuts given to the state’s wealthiest citizens and tax breaks for oil and gas companies, which have caused an earthquake crisis here through the wastewater disposal process used in hydraulic fracturing.They rob our schools and damage our houses, and then depict themselves as heroes and champions of state economic development with the support from the local media.

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Normalizing Lies

Lost in the post-election blues was Oklahoma’s U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe’s comment about president-elect Donald Trump’s victory.

Let’s parse through some of it. Here are the first two sentences:

Congratulations to President-elect Donald J. Trump who the American people voted to serve this great nation as our 45th president. A Republican-led Congress is ready to work with Trump and move our nation forward with a platform that promotes economic opportunity for all, values life at every stage, and is committed to bringing about peace and stability by strengthening our own national security.

First, the American people didn’t vote for Trump to “serve this great nation.” The last count I saw had Trump’s opponent Hillary Clinton ahead by 2.3 million votes and her lead was expected to grow to 2.5 million votes. Trump won the electoral college, sure, and those are the rules, but the American people voted for Clinton. Second, generally speaking, Republicans do NOT support economic opportunity “for all.” They support tax cuts for the wealthy and the dismantling of Medicare and Social Security. Third, “life at every stage” is code for a potential Trump U.S. Supreme Court appointee that could ensure abortion becomes illegal in the country or at least in many red states, including Oklahoma.

Fourth, and finally, Trump has already created havoc in the geopolitical world even before officially becoming president. He has already bewildered the government of China, and this will surely continue. How can anyone believe Trump will bring about “peace and stability” on any issue, especially international affairs?

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Trump Saga Officially Begins

I’m traveling again over the next few days and so I only have time for a short post.

Many of my post-election posts have been about how deeply unusual and frightening someone like Donald Trump was elected president. Most of the blame goes to the mainstream media, especially the major television networks, for their breathless coverage of Trump’s outlandish criticisms of Hillary Clinton and her supposed email scandal, which wasn’t a scandal at all. Some of the blame, of course, rests with our electoral college system, which enables someone to win the presidency without winning the popular vote.

The last time I checked, Clinton was ahead of Trump by more than 2.3 million votes as counting and recounting continues. More U.S. voters wanted Clinton as their president than Trump. That’s obvious, and Trump can whine about it all he wants, but those are the facts. It’s not a case of Trump becoming an illegitimate president. It’s a case of an illegitimate system that needs to be modernized. It’s unlikely, of course, that will happen under Republican control of our government.

So take a deep breath and get ready for two extremely frightening years in which this country’s safety net—Medicare and Social Security, for example—will come under fire and perhaps altered to significantly lower benefits, two years in which Trump could take us into a new war, perhaps even a world war, with his egotistical blustering.

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